I can save you some time, as you can easily detect McClatchy's consistently twisted brand of Iraq war journalism and serious lack of broadcast integrity by their headlines alone....
Iraq fighting is worst in months; Maliki issues ultimatum
Is 'success' of U.S. surge in Iraq about to unravel?
Violence is down, but Iraq still faces a long, hard road
You get the drift... it's always something with that group. "Violence is down, BUT..." "Success about to unravel?" Obviously a bunch of whiners who appeal to a readship of victims.
There is a common error here in western press, drawing lines from this Basra battle to the Surge. They are not, however, connected. Basra security was handed over to the Iraqis by the British, formally, in Dec 2007 after a 6 month run up to the event. It should also be noted that violence has been on the uptick since their withdrawal.
If nothing else, the increase in violence is what the POTUS candidates should notice... a perfect example of what may happen if we leave Iraq prematurely. In the case of Basra, rival Shia factions vying for power over the locals in the wake coalition troops leaving.
The Brits have a presence at an airbase outside of Basra. But they're sitting this one out. So this is it, folks... this is the moment the DNC and anti-free-Iraq types have been waiting for. And all that you naysayers have been demanding of Iraq... they are stepping up to the plate to defend themselves.
And what do they get for it? No atta boys from the western media. No cheerleading for success. Just moaning and more moaning about failure, corruption, violence and predictions for more failure. Apparently the western media and their flock of uneducated sheeple still don't know which side they are supposed to be rooting for.
But I think my favorite take on Basra comes from Lt. Col. Caveman at Rambling from the Rock. Da Lt. always seems to have a particularly sage vision on strategy and the big picture. And this is no exception.
Oil is the wealth of the Iraqi nation. As long as crime cartels and militants control sections of the country's wealth, it can never be truly free and self-sustaining. Maliki is ridding the country of it last main non-government militia (the Mahdi Army) and a entrenched criminal organizations, controlled mostly by Special Groups. He is seeking to limit Iranian influence in his country.
In addition, this operation officially ends his ties with Sadr, who's 30 parliamentary seats, put Maliki into power and has up to this time prevented the government from embracing reconcilitation to a greater extent.
Early in December, a "memorandum of understanding" was signed between the Kurds, the Sunnis, and the Dawa Party. Maliki also needed to enlist the support of Hakim's Badr Organization to seal his control of the country. Most military units in Southern Iraq are heavily Badr. Given that these forces are now listening to Maliki and attacking the Mahdi Army and Special Groups, it is obvious that Maliki is telling Iran to get out of Iraq and quit meddling in Iraqi politics by directly attacking those forces Iran supports. In turn, he intends to fully establish his government legitimacy over the country's oil wealth.
I concur with Talisman Gate. Far from this action being a flare up of violence, it is truly a consolidation of nationalistic power across the country and an indirect attack on Iranian influence in the region. The absence of US forces in the mix are a way for Maliki to show other countries his forces are now strong enough to stop defend his country. The presence of US troops in his country will prevent any overt attack. This operation is designed to stop subversive attacks within his country.
Kurdish forces have always been strong in the North and have continued to secure this region. Coalition forces in the center are busy defeating Al Qaeda in Iraq wholesale. The southern fight is Maliki's and he aims to show all Iraqis he can protect his country.
Yup, yup and waaaay yup, Lt. Col. Good overview of Maliki putting both rogue Sadr'ists and Iran on notice. And I hope he succeeds.
It should be noted that the LtCol references and quotes Talisman Gate, blog of Nibras Kazimi. I haven't gotten around to reading this blog more thoroughly. But Ramblin's recommendation is all I need to add it to my bookmarks. But here is updates from Kazimi on today's battlefield status.
UPDATE, Wednesday, March 26, 2008:
Operation Cavalry Charge in Basra is going much better than anticipated; solid leadership coupled with a much-diminished enemy is harvesting very quick results.
Here are the key points on Day 2 of the operation:
-The word from Hayyania, one of Basra’s most populated and poorest neighborhoods, is that the situation is calm and under control. The Iraqi Army has taken up positions in the main thoroughfare while the criminal gangs and the Sadrists seem to be sitting this one out—they’re not engaging the government troops and are instead keeping a low profile.
-Both the Army commander of Operation Cavalry Charge, Lt. Gen. Mohan Hafidh al-Freiji, and the police commander, Maj. Gen. Jalil Khalaf al-Muhammadawi, are very able commanders and brave men, with al-Muhammadawi, an ex-tank officer in the Iraqi Army, tending towards brutality. He’s also helped by the fact that he can draw upon important tribal relations in the all-important Albu-Muhammed tribe of nearby ‘Amara Province.
snip - continue reading at TG's blog, please... it's worth it!
In the meantime, it sure would be nice if the western media had a clue to the import of this event. It not only shows that the Iraqi military, while not necessarily ready to sustain the entire nation, is coming up to speed. And that the new gov't is serious in maintaining their status as a new country with a future.
Alas, a narcissistic western media sees everything sees events in Iraq as all about a Bush failure, and another opportunity to portray the Surge as a failure. Too bad... they are missing history... watching the Iraqis police their own as nation, free from a despot. Iraqis should be proud!